EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) — The UW-Eau Claire men's hockey team kicked off the 2013-2014 season by recognizing the National Championship season from just a year ago. After a bit of a slow start, they began the season the same way they ended last season, with a win, this time it was a 5-2 victory over St. Olaf (Minn.) in front of 1,600 people at Hobbs Ice Center.
With several former players from last year's team in attendance, they began the night by revealing the NCAA National Championship banner. When they finally dropped the puck, things got interesting quickly. A St. Olaf (0-3-0) player received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct just 1:31 into the period, giving the Blugolds (1-0-0) a five-minute power-play.
The Oles killed off the majority of the power-play, but at 6:29, Jeff Pauluk (So.-Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) took a shot from the point that beat the St. Olaf goalkeeper high to the blocker side for the first goal of the season. Charles Thauwald (So.-Rochester, Minn./Mayo) and Niko Kapetanovic (Sr.-North Prairie, Wis./Kettle Moraine) assisted on the goal.
Just 25 seconds later, the Oles got a goal off a faceoff in the offensive zone to knot the game back up at 1-1. That was how the first period ended, but things got interesting in the second period.
At 3:54 of the second period, Daniel Olszewski (Sr.-Janesville, Wis./Craig) came in on the St. Olaf goalie 2-on-1 and snuck a pass over to Jack Callahan (Jr.-Red Bank, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) at the last second and he buried the puck into an open net to give the lead back to the Blugolds. But once again, at 9:33, the Oles tied it back up on a rebound goal.
Just a few minutes later, at 12:42, David Donnellan (Sr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) gave the Blugolds the lead for good on another shot from the point. Joe Krause (Jr.-Hermantown, Minn./Hermantown) picked up his second assist of the night on the goal.
Ross Andersen (Jr.-River Falls, Wis./River Falls) capped off the scoring in the second period at 15:49. Krause added his third assist of the night on the goal.
Going into the final period, the Blugolds appeared content to play sound defense and keep the Oles off the board. With 1:20 remaining in the game and down two, the Oles pulled their goalie for the extra attacker.
But with 39 seconds remaining, Kapetanovic dumped a shot on goal from the blue line and found the back of the net to cap off the scoring and secure the win for the Blugolds on a special night in front of a huge crowd.
Tyler Green (So.-Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) made his first career start for the Blugolds after seeing just 20 minutes of action last season behind Brandon Stephenson and Alex Bjerk. He made 20 saves on 22 shots to earn his first collegiate victory.
After a chippy first period that had seven penalties for 25 minutes, there were just three penalties the rest of the way. The Blugolds were 1-for-5 with the man-advantage, while the Oles were 0-for-1. The Blugolds also outshot the Oles 34-22.
The Blugolds will be back in action Saturday night when they welcome Saint John's (Minn.) in what will be a rematch of the first round NCAA Championship game from last season. UW-Eau Claire defeated Saint John's 4-2 in that game. The game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night at Hobbs Ice Center.